Brick has gone international, and with the aid of London-based distributor Central Books, itʼs now available in Berlin. Specifically, youʼll find it at a bright and beautiful book and magazine shop called Do You Read Me?! on Auguststrasse, a quiet strip in the Mitte district. The store is sleek and airy, with floor-to-ceiling shelves covered in a covetable selection of publications. I met with Jessica Reitz, co-owner of Do You Read Me?!, on a cool August evening to talk about the shop, which was bustling with customers. With over fifteen years of experience as a bookseller, Reitz had a lot to say about why her store works.
Brick: Tell us a bit about your store. What makes it unique in Berlin?
Jessica Reitz: The store opened its doors in the autumn of 2008. Iʼm the bookseller and Mark [Kiessling], the co-owner, is the designer (he is a trained graphic artist). It filled a need for us because we couldnʼt find the magazines that we liked. Weʼd have to pick them up while travelling or on holiday. We thought it would be a good idea because we knew that there must be other people with the same problem. We also really wanted to create a store that celebrated magazines and magazine culture. In many stores, magazines are kept in the corner. The magazines we sell are a bit like books. We wanted a shop for good print products, but first and foremost for magazines, with books and catalogues mixed in.
Brick: Tell us about your customers. Who comes to visit?
Jessica Reitz: There are architects, photographers, people who work in fashion, people interested in culture, people only in Berlin for a short time. There are a lot of galleries in this area, so it attracts a cultured, artistic crowd. People buy totally different things than what you might expect theyʼd buy; itʼs always surprising.
Brick: Weʼre living in the age of e-books. Are booksellers still necessary?
Jessica Reitz: I hope so! Itʼs a totally different experience to see something on an iPad or another device. Itʼs a different feeling to have a book in your hands. If I know what I want, itʼs easy for me to order online from Amazon, but if I donʼt know, then I like to go to a bookshop to browse. I like to have that assortment, to see the selection, and to talk to a person who can recommend things.
Brick: What sells best in your store? What is the most popular reading material in Berlin these days?
Jessica Reitz: Apartamento, an interior design magazine. We sell a lot of back issues, too.
Brick: Not to toot our own horn or anything, but—toot, toot—what do you think of Brick?
Jessica Reitz: We donʼt carry many literary magazines, but our selection is growing. Weʼve only recently started to carry Brick. Brick fits into a different niche than the others because of its content and size. People are attracted to that.
Brick: Suspend your disbelief for a moment and imagine that Christopher Isherwood wandered into your store. What do you think heʼd say about it?
Jessica Reitz: [laughs] I hope that he would like it. Itʼs funny because Walther König, a really famous Berlin art bookseller, came into the shop and told me that he liked it. For me it was like, Oh my God! If someone like him tells you that youʼre doing a good job, then it means something. For me, it was as if Christopher Isherwood had come into the store.